The ‘under view’ of the Seminar: Some clarifications [Archives:2005/856/Education]

July 4 2005

[email protected]
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb.

Dear Dr Sahu,

I hope you will publish this letter, which tries to clear the misrepresentation of my presentation in the Seminar in the 'under view' of Dr Murari Prasad, (Yemen Times 20 June 2005); Dr Prasad has done an excellent job highlighting the undercurrents of the grand Seminar on Shakespeare with his enviable eloquence. He seems to share the joy of all the presentations but greatly disturbed by those of Dr Sharyan's and mine. Is that why they have been undermined?

My position made clear in my presentation is this: Teach Shakespeare or any literary giant only when the students are linguistically ready to understand and appreciate them; teach them in a way that will benefit the students. It is not enough if a few of them use the ifs and buts, but most of them should be able to use if and but properly. I am glad that Dr Prasad's students are able to make use of Shakespeare's grandiloquence in their day-to-day use, but such students constitute a negligent minority in Yemeni universities; the majority, in my experience, doesn't find Shakespeare helpful to them in enhancing their competence or confidence. As Professor Thakur summed up my presentation, teachers should decide when and how to teach Shakespeare. In my view, most of us err on the wrong side, when we come to this crucial decision-making and teach Shakespeare or any other genius with the tunneled vision; we see darkness instead of light at the end of the tunnel. This is not the pipeline approach but the lifeline approach, because it centers round the life of the students (and also ours!) and enables them to live.

Coming to the teaching of Shakespeare, as it was pointed out in one of the sessions, most of the students get the teachers' versions of Shakespeare and how are they going to learn the ifs and buts of the genius, even if that is what we want them to learn?

The question is not about the modernity or antiquity of Shakespeare (to quote Dr Prasad, most of his expressions are understandable to modern intuition, which is difficult to ensure in our students), but about the students' linguistic preparedness to receive the English of such grandiose and magnitude. Why labour with such difficult linguistic giants at the UG classes? Why not some easy-to-comprehend, close-to-heart literary creations? The decision-making in Yemeni universities, fortunately, is ours, isn't it?

Yours sincerely,

Dr. M.N.K.Bose.